Blog53-go west young man

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To which I say, what the hell for, the wind is blowing 900 miles an hour…..cant we go have another look at the east! This is Jeremiah,’s Round The World cycle trip, and we are taking the easy route! This blog entry begins in Lubbock with my niece Kipty who is a student at Texas Tech. There are dinners to be had, dinners to go out for and old friends to visit while we are in town……notice that there are no plans to miss any dinner no matter where we can get it.

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New Mexico roads, known for thier sharp corners and curves!!

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When Jeremiah was going to school in Amarillo for saddlemaking class, he and his brother Bill shared a house with 4 other fellows from various places in USA. One fellow was Darby Adams wbo used to hail from norther eastern Colorado but now lives in Lubbock with his wife Dalette. We managed to find a place on Fat Tuesday too find a nice steak, and the four of us had a great supper and a chance to renew old friendships that had been sitting idle. Yes, I know we were supposed to eat something rather Cajun, but the waiting lines were better than 75 minutes…….and we are fast food diners with zero patience for the waiting thingy.

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Matt Humphreys in his engraving room.

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Jeremiah took an afternoon to run out to Dickens TX, just 60 miles east of Lubbock, to visit with a very talented Texas Bit & Spurmaker, Matt Humphrey. What a great visit, and a fantastic shop for such a young maker. I can tell you that it was fun to visit with a fellow who loved equipment as much as I do. No secrets in my shop, and it seemed pretty much the same in Matt’s shop as well. The drive out to Dickens took me a little by surprise as well. You drop off the cap as its called, and drop off into the valley the houses the Rio Blanco river. The little west Texas hamlet of Crosbyton, sits atop the western rim of this pituresque canyon and houses the Rio Blanco Arkee’ilogical Museum. But surprise, the Museum is run by a couple Christians, so they helped me in understanding it from a Biblical perspective which really helped. If yer still stuck on first base along with Darwin, well there are enough unanswered questions yet to keep you and your ancestors hung up on some Galapagoan mystery. Always wanted a Saber Toothed Tiger skull…….there such a collosal mystery and folks have a tuff time thinking they were actually just melon eaters. Afterall, they cant open that mouth wide enuff to really bite you with strength. 9 foot wide early plains buffalo skulls, 6 foot long Newt skeletons and genuine Wooly Mammoth skulls and tusks are in abundance. I could have stayed longer and asked more questions, but ice cream was awaiting me with Kip in Lubbock……and besides that, I can ask Jesus when I get to heaven. One of the benefits of “believeing”.

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Before I could leave the state of Texas, Jeremiah had to take care of 3 days work in Oklahoma. Jeremiah has some machining issues to work on and this small departure from the cycling trip was too allow JW to seek help in finding a solution. While Jeremiah was over in eastern Oklahoma it gave him a chance to visit two of his favorite people. That being, Bill and Sally Madole of Madole Spur fame. A great visit, seeing Bill working on his intricately fully engraved spurs, and Sally doing all that sawing so they can stay busy mounting spurs and work on that year long backorder timeline.

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Bill & Sally Madole of Shawnee Oklahoma

The time came that Jim-Bob needed to get back to peddaling and heading for House NM. Packed the gear onto Shirly Surly on a crisp clear cool morning and headed north by northwest towards Clovis. The roads are mostly 4 lane with a wide shoulder so it was pretty easy going. The first day out from Lubbock on a loaded bike I done 107 miles, I felt like a real stud and called my wife to make sure she knew or remembered what a stud I was!!!!

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Set my camp up west of Muleshoe, had a quick supper and rolled into bed on what turned out to be a cool night. The partial moon rose over the horizon as I closed my tablet up and quit reading for the night. A little off topic, but I am about to finish my thirteenth book since China departure. Rolling camp the next day I noticed that my tires were full of sand burrs and I spent better part of half an hour cleaning the burrs off before I could get started riding. My route for the day takes me thru Portales so I can visit with my friend and fellow artist bit and spur maker, Stewart Williamson. Ended up making it to Portales just in time for lunch with Stewart and his brother. Had a great visit, talked about all the usual things guys like us talk about……price of silver, latest in belt grinders, price of spurs, engraving and of course a little time was spent cussin not discussin O’Blamer and his administration.

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Now heading out of Portales was a real effort, the wind had picked up substancially, it was a pure headwind of about 30 mile perhour. I worked like a dog to get 30 miles away from House NM. And then like an angel parting the clouds, my niece Kendra showed up and met me on the side of the road ferrying me without hesitation back to House. Been here since that day, except for a 3 day working break over in Oklahoma. Since the night that I have arrived, it has been foggy, snowing and freezing everyday, and this the 9th day since I arrived. Pretty sure that I would have gotten into trouble someplace along the road, sitting in my little tent  watching my toes turn purple and fall off……wondering why I was dumb enough to leave a warm sanctuary. While here, I tried to help out as much as possible with feeding both sheep and cattle, chopping ice, helping my niece with her engraving and fabricafion whenever her 2 little kids allowed.

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My older brother Niel, showed  up to surprise me, he will be riding with me when Iam ready to head further west. Always fun to have company on the ride as we go. And my darling wife will be here tonight after having worked the Prescott Leather Show, stopping on her way to the Legends of Legacy Show in Dallas/Ft.Worth.

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Blog52-Galloping across the Lone Star State

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Texas greeted Jeremiah and his RTW-round the world effort with a freshened breeze out of the south, a blazing winter sun shimmering on the black paint of Shirley Surly, the steed used for this cycling journey. Waco, now lay in my rearview mirror. A days rest in Waco adds just enough freshness too the legs to give rise to optimisim about riding out this battle to the end, concluding in California. More specifically to end at home in Coalinga, California.

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For several days, Jeremiah would be riding west by northwest under a blazing southern winter sun. Somedays pushing the temps up well into the 80’s, burning and baking all exposed skin surfaces to a wilted wrinkled “Boston Baked Bean” look. Especially the top of my now almost hairless head, poochy maggies that hurt and I had watery effluent trickling down behind my ears for several days as the blisters broke and leaked. Not to worry, as God made us a heck of a lot more durable than the average person thinks is possible these days. Simple, stopped and bought a hat at the first gas station selling hats….cured but for the itchy scabs.

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Jeremiah and Shirley Surly, put in some longer than planned for days while on this west Texas leg of the journey. My timeline was built on approx. 50 mile days on the loaded tour around the world. But here, in Texas, I have ridden mostly over 65 mile days, several 80 plus days and my second from last day arriving into Lubbock was 105 miles. There are several reasons why this may happen. For one, in some places there is no reason to stop……there just aint a town nor gas station to make a stop for. Also the days are getting longer so Jeremiah can ride later into the evening hours before darkness forces him off the road. If I were to quit at the 50 mile mark, somedays I would be done at noon…….and then what do I do for the rest of the day? Right, I agree fully, just keep pedaling is the best idea. As my friend Cleve Redding said…..”just shutup and ride”. Thats clear and concise……I just our President can learn a lesson in this.

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Along about the tiny scrub brush covered town of Evant, I got the heads up that there was a bit&spur maker there that I should have stopped and visited. Big Problem, I always ask around any and all small towns…..”hey, are there any folks in town or around who do interesting work, like make bits and spurs, maybe make saddles or do leather work, heck anything western”. To which the gas station employee purses his lips, cocks an eyebrow, maybe grips thier chin with a left hand to add to the theatrics of “giving heavy thought” ……..and says ” well Blanche Wormwood over on Filmore does needle point……but that would be the only artist that I can think of”!!!!  And so, armed with this knowledge I rode on another 10-12 miles past Evant and camped on the side of the road……..getting up the next morning to ride on only to find out that when I took the picture of my bike beside the EVANT sign that I was only 200 yards from bit&spurmaker Brian Mauneys front doorstep. Sorry Brian, I would have loved to had a visit……my advice to you……you need to tell the guy at the gas station that you also do needle point.

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Some 38 or so years ago, Jeremiah attended saddlemaking school in Amarillo Texas. One of the fellow students in my class year, a fellow who hails from Abilene, Niel Overton…….still building saddles much the same as am I. We had a chance to get together for breakfast in Sweetwater Texas, tell old stories, find out whats happening in each others lives since then. All fun, and great to see Niel again. Another event that happened during my time going to school in Texas, was attending an invitational roping in the tiny west Texas town of Post. The last time that Jeremiah was in this town, was to watch the match roping between World Champion All Around Cowboy, Phil Lyne and the new up-and-comer that being Roy Cooper. Along with many runs of steer trippers and other calfropers, its was a spectacular weekend of roping that has always stuck with me. I rolled into Post about 6.30 after all these years,  and the sun had set withdarkness invading the streets and alleys, I needed to camp soon…..but needed food worse. Ate at Hollies Drive-Inn, had a great burger and fries……..solved my camping problem by walking right across the streetand sleeping in the little band-stand pavilillion in the town park…….just as simple as that. For breakfast, I rode thru the town of 3500 until I spotted a cafe and all the trucks in front proving it was popular, by accident I had found a good one, Geroges BBQ and Cafe. So, as it ends up. Let a man with brown hairy legs and rubber pants walk thru a cafe full of cowboys with hats tipped back and spurs on thier boots…..a fight broke out…….LOL, jist kidding. Conversation broke out. I think I could have plugged a canon barrel with thier eyes as they swelled to size when I told them I was a saddle maker and also a bit and spurmaker. This was a hard one for them to believe, but in the end with the telling of tales, mentioning my name and what we make it came to pass that they believed, and that we all had more in common rather than nothing in common.

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For Jeremiah, the little town of Santa Anna held him for several hours longer than expected. At the south end of town is a fellow who does resaw work. Turning old mesquite and oak stumps into beautiful lumber. What had once been bridge support beams or tongue and groove bridge decking, is resawn and turned into gorgeous flooring for trendy New York or Atlanta night clubs, restaurants and chic apartments. Upscale recycle with an incredible new face, birthed out out of discarded remains of Americas industrialization.

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Breakfast in Santa Anna, would happen at an old-time coffeeshop. The sort that seems all to rare these days, yet at one time the icon of that slower small town lifestyle that had us leaving the city to enjoy it. Ranchers with spurs yet on thier boots surround one table, the talk of cattle or feed prices occupies thier time. At yet another table its the morning ” coffee klatch” among the few struggling businesses who still hold onto the small town lifestyle, thier conversation seems to revolve around issues more political which affect thier business life. Off to the far corner you have the octogenarions, long since retired, and since 1951 have been thru the years starting everyday with at least coffee at the local coffee shop………this day, no different than any since this morning pilgrimage began. Only that at this table, any and allthings are talked about, its the NO holds barred table and houses the sage amongst sage patrons…..so be careful should you pull up a chair to join thier ranks.

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Newspaper journalist, photographer and insurance salesman hears about my own journey as I speak with another cafe patron……and before I know it I am rolling down the street for an interview with Tex Wright. Now pushing past mid 70’s, Tex is still very active at all those things that interest him. An avid landscape photographer, Tex spends idle time shooting the west Texas region and giving his images to local hospitals. Some serious medical issues dont seem to be a hindrance to Tex, maybe his Doctor…..but not Tex. I am well instructed on the ways of survival in the west Texas desert before I am allowed to depart.

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BLESSED, while riding thru Goldthwaite. Tragedy is averted. Upon leaving a store in this small Texas town, Jeremiah drops his wallet unknowingly and rides on in search of Peabodys Diner. Found the diner, but also found it was shutdown and for sale…….a passerby recommends that I head up the street to the Wagon Wheel Cafe. In I go, happy as can be on a beautifully warm sunny day, going to eat a nice meal in a cafe. Jeremiah spots a fellow sporting a well waxed mustache, not a common sight here in Texas…..something more common to say Elko County, Nevada.

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Mr. G.L.Daniels is my conversation partner for the next 1/2 hour or so. We talk about all things pertaining to the west,cowboys, ranching and waxed mustaches………….(“anybody mention losing a wallet” sounds a small voice within the din that is eating diners.) The time has come, I need to move on and put somemore miles in on Shirley Surly. Jeremiah gets his bill and heads for the cash register only to have the shock wave of dread rip thru your mind when you realize somehow you have misplaced your wallet. As I am trying to explain to the cashier that somehow I have misplaced my wallet, and at the same time do a vain mental search of my most recent wallet memory…..off to my right a yound lady mentions that someone from the Newspaper next door asked about a wallet maybe 45 minutes ago. News too me, and yet she did walk in and ask the patrons about’a lost wallet. Jeremiah runs…..yes, runs nextdoor and inquires about the wallet……….finding out it has been handed over to the Sheriff…….right over in that building as she points it out to me. Jeremiah does his best impression of Usian Bolts as he sprints for the Sherriffs Office. As I walk into the fortified alcove awaiting you once thru the front door…..I can already see my black nylon wallet containing my whole life, laying on the desk. After describing what should have been in the wallet, it is handed back over to me. Absolutely everything in the wallet is intact, cash, euros, credit cards…..everything. my continued faith in the protection offered us thru faith and Prayer is fortified. And my faith in human good and kindness is restored. If the entire world is not good…….then at least I know that Goldthwaite is for sure.

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Cycling north by west thru Texas and its arid western desert, with its scrub brush, cactus and rolling hills is taking me ever closer to Lubbock and a chance to visit my niece Kipty Watt, a student at Texas Tech getting her degree in Animal Nutrition. It will be good for the soul to be able to stop and visit actual family for a change. From Lubbock I will be headed further north towards House NM to visit yet another niece, but before that I leave for 4 days of business taking me out of Texas and into another state for that time. If all works out, I should be mounted up and riding towards Clovis NM by late Saturday or for sure Sunday departure. In the meantime, I pray for safe roads, good weather and blessings on all those who follow not only my blog but Christs word on living our lives……and yes, that includes you Bill at the Jerky Store.

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Blog51-from piney woods to the plains

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From the Piney woods to the plains, leaving the middle of Louisianna at Monroe and riding out into Texas. Thats where Jeremiah is with his RTW around Gods Creation on Shirley Surly, his metal steed that transports him across the southern USA. Shirley my Surly is running along very smoothly now, with that new back wheel, each day Jeremiah runs on into the 70 and 80 miles, far further than what he has set as an average.

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From Monroe too the west, Jeremiah rode alot of little backroads, which puts in place too see alot of tiny US towns that have been all but forgotten, thier citizens and the stores they used to operate. For me it has been a little disheartening on the one hand, but also a certain sense of pride is shown by those who cling to thier meager but satisfying lives in rural America. Logging of the ocean of Pines that cover western Louisianna is a primary employer, followed by the semi’s that haul them in both tree and chip form. Meanwhile, Jeremiah spends his day dodging truck bumpers, mirrors and those blasted rumble strips that border most roads

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“Excuse me sir…….I’am going to need to see some ID”. Briefly I thought I had rode i to a third world country…..but here I was in Saline LA…..minding my own business and talking to Curtis bout life. “It wont take but a minute…..I,ll just run it to be sure”. While that was going on, and to a certain extent before the Sherrif arrived, the conversation around me to the left was from 5 or so gals from the Saline Retirement Center…..and Curtis who is the town drunk. When the Sherriff showed up, one gal suggested that they get backinside before the Sherriff decides to check them out. Curtis, well he was relaxed….drunks are like that. A second Sherriff showed up, gun on his hip and his ready for action quick draw tactile gloves…..his hand ever looming over the pistol at his hip. It didnt really un-nerve me, having a steely will and  ram-rod spine and all……plus I had the confidence that comes with wearing “Depends”.

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“Were going to need to see your California Card says the Sherriff”……..what kind,a card I say somewhat astonished and now a tad (Canadian metric measurement for a little bit)…..I have never even heard of that sort of Card. Well says the Sherriff….”we need to see more ID”. Sir, with all due respect, you have all the ID that I carry….my Passport…..it has gotten me thru a whole host of countries, what,s wrong here. About this time, one of the retired gals, Jeanne was her name…..walks up and hands me a note and 20 dollar bill…..she wanted to wish me well and bless my trip…..i tried to insist that I didnt need her money but she would not have that. Upon taking the money, right there in front of the Sherriff, that sure made them all the more suspicious of my being on the streets of Saline. An hour and a half of the most bizarre background check that I have been thru. I have all kind of respect for law enforcement, but I really felt like this was a bit obsured and completely without merit or need.

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My days were rodden mostly under cloud cover, minor rain on a few evenings and the rest of the time was simply spent pedaling. Thru small town after small town. Stopped at many of the little “ruff around the edges” gas station stores and had coffee with owners and employees alike. In doing so, I found we shared a love and belief in Christ…..a love of country…….and about half the time I found they loved Barry. Proof, that coffee will not cure all things. Walked thru many little antique, vintage stores. Not that I wanted to buy anything, just needed to give the butt a rest.

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On  clear blue sky day, Jeremiah and “Shirley Surly” rode across the river at Logansport and entered Texas. For me, it was another milestone moment, because with Texas rolling by under German rubber…..Jeremiah is officially OUT WEST folks. Never mind what some academician from some Ivy League think tank says about where the west begins.  We Cowboys know where the west begins…….Texas.

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Texas rolled by fairly easily, not without it,s due sweat and sore legs, but just knowing that more and More Texas was rolling up behind me each day was all the incentive needed to pedal for home, for my incredible wife, my kids and my work obligations. Along about Mexia, I was to meetup with a talented engraver and friend….Jerry Gant. Should be easy right……Jeremiah on a loaded bicycle…….and Jerry, driving a 1976 deep purple Malibu rolling on 24″wheels and low profiles, bumpin tunes on 20,000 watt Blapunkt stereo…..with a rollin whip like that…..how could we miss each other. But we certainly did miss each other on a 2 lane road. Sorry Jerry.

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Waco. Rolled into town, me, singing a Bob Wills tune and happy to be meeting up with an old friend Deahl Rooks. Some 25 or more years ago, Deahl was a student in one of my engraving classes. I had not seen him since, talked thru FB, but not in person. When we first met, we were both comllete heathens with no need for Faith. Today we both enjoy having Christ in our lives and homes and relationships. My friend has found his calling in life, in adopting children and offering a loving home to 17 that had none. May God Bless you richly Deahl & Patty, you bolster my own belief with you astounding walk with Christ.
Good night and may God bless America and YOU.

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Blog50-cycling thru rural America

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Downtown Marion Alabama, neat little town.

Cycling thru the heritage or rural America, swamps and dense pine forests on our endevour to Ride Around the World (RTW) and see Gods Creation, what a great ride it has beenfor the most part. Some minor discomforts, to be expected. And some minor annoyances as well, also to be expected. An RTW would not happen without a portion at least of both,  God sees fit to wrap both discomfort and annoyance in sunshine, bluesky etc. Making it all easier to tolerate.

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2 views of the Frisky Bisquit, Canton Mississippi-great place

Jeremiah in preparing to leave the small Alabama town of Marion, took his host and teacher friend out for supper at Lotties Soul Food Restaurant in Marion. What a great meal, if ever thru that way be sure to try it out, you wont be dissappointed. The plan was to be up and out of town early, but broken glasses sort of had us make a few departure changes. The eye-glass repairs took until 11.00pm to finally get it all wrapped up. Under a bright blue sky and crisp winter air, Jeremiah finally turned a crank taking him further west.  Pretty much took State Road 14 west, but for a few kinks and turns. Rode thru the day with a small steady bump sensation from the backtire ( bells should have been going off ) stopped a little early and pulled the rear wheel for a reset and inspection…..all looks fine.

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Got up early again the following morning, just rolled up camp without bothering to eat. I find that Iam really loosing my appetite and it happens at both ends of the day pretty much. Its not because I load up during lunch in town, thats not my routine. Just a lose of appetite……could it possibly be my cooking? Yeah, didn’t think so……must be my colon needs cleansing. The day greeted me with slate grey sky and a soft damp breeze. Jeremiahs inner weather forecaster was predicting rain by noon. God however had different intentions, and by nokn I was as stripped of as can be and still legal. The sun blazed, my face burnt, and the sweat poured. Some time around 10, pulled over at a tiny poorly stocked roadside store and bought a cup of coffee. Sat there in a cane seated rocker, wood floor with all the ancestral creaks, chipped and peeling paint, looking out windows that needed a serious cleaning………and two very elderly black fellas playing checkers not 6 feet from me. They bantered back and forth, they would laugh and slap thier leg when they pulled of a surprise move that the other was not expecting. They discussed Morty’s sick hog, whoever he is. The grand daughters “bad missbeehavin chillens”, Lordy the yungins dont got no respec fo nuttin dees daze. Sorry folks, but it was just too much for Jeremiah to handle, the muted interior colors, the shadows, the characters…….it required an image or maybe 2…….but I soon found, that very suggestion also snapped the magical spell that had kept the tiny store wrapped in a time envelope. Both players refused the request with much animation, one would soon get up and leave as a result.

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Further on down the road, I passed by a Rodeo Complex which was part og East Mississippi College complex. Dang I thought, I better not pass that up, first sort of sight in almost 9 months. So, I roll up by the big front doors, park my bike and look around for someone to snap a pic for me. I done that and more. As it turned out the rodeo coach’s name is Goodyear. He actually rodeoed in my hometown of Coalinga california, and was on the West Hills College rodeo team for Bruce Hunt. He had met another freind of ours, Jason Clark when he competed against Salinas Hartnell College. He knew the secret town name for the backroad that I live on……the State calls it #198…….while the locals call in “whindyeight”. He had been up the canyon and branded calves at the Johnsons. Once again, I was shown just how small the world really is……..pssh, and someone expects us to believe they never heard of the Bible nor the promise of Salvation………right. the latter part lf this day had us riding into a stiff headwind and much bigger steeper hills. Quiting by days end, felt very good.

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A cycling group I met, they were out for a 100 miler

Rolled out early, grey sky greeted us for a second day and like the previous day the cloud parted for afternoon sun. Just not near as warm. We rode all day, had 2 cups of coffee was all for breaks. Never took a single picture, just rode. Racked up 93 miles with mostly headwind and hills. Jeremiahs camp for the night was nestled into some trees with 4″ or more of leaves to lay on, gfeat sleep. Camp was within 3 miles of Canton Mississippi, so we had decided to have a full brakfast in town that morning. Gotta say, I could spend sometime around Canton, very pretty little town. Lots of antique and junk shops, many little restaurants, and a beautiful town square repleat with a stately white Courthouse.

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Someplace along the road after leaving Canton. I noticex a fella out fencing, by himself, digging and setting posts. Decided I would walk kver, say hello maybe take a few pics if it worked out. Thin, taunt muscles, the dirt that comes with an honest days work was this mans business suit, and it fit him like a piece tailored for him. “Eyebe Dan Brown, eyebe jiss a workin an’a prayin upin cheer” . Took me a moment to decode and figure out just what was said, but before long we could converse. Jeremiah learns languages quick. “Yessir, eyebe 75 yeahs old heer ness week, doon never drink no smok……ahh tinks dat’s da reesin eyebe guud shape like ah is”. Couldnt argue with Dans medical observation, he was in great shape, and spent his time Prayin while he worked……dont think that hurt his healthcare orogram none either.

It was the word “BISQUIT” that caught my eye. A small locally owned establishment that is part of the central town square. Jeremiah was not looking for yet another danged morning franchise place…….Jeremiah was longing for a “just like Mom cooks breakfast”. The Frisky Bisquit was the place, hoppin busy, and smikes all around as folks got thier meals. Mine was great, most dishes had a bit of a cajun twist to them, a little spice, some chickory in the coffee etc, making for a fine meal and a fun stop. Sat at the counter, had a great visit with a fellow who would love to do just what I am doing. Fear would be his main opponent in making it all hzppen, fear of the unknown out on the road in far away lands…..a very real concern, and then fear of what his wife and family would say…….this one amazed me as I pondered that and promptly excused myself. I knew from past expierience that I could help this young fella (maybe 35-40). Jeremiah returned with what was left of his roll of silvery ductape……….take this I said, if properly applied it will solve things a marrizge councellor can’t…..its yours for free son, good luck!  I noticed as I stood, the felka had alot of small red marks on the back of his neck above his shirt collar…….strange……those look like hen pecks.

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Closed out the day with many more hills, the sunshine gave way its lofty moorings to heavy grey cloud that boiled in the sky. My rode took me further and further west, closer to my own loved ones and home. Gone for 9 months, maybe 11 by the time I got home……..I just knew that Collens tape would be due for replacement. Camp that night was not the best, but we ditched around the tent, staked out the corners incase she came a toad strangler ( for my European readers, that is an American term for a big rain event). Just a lot of wind to start and then a long slow drizzle till early morning.

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Not but 5 miles to Vicksburg, as we headed that direction it all began again…..that rythmic bump in my backwheel. Pulled over in Vicksburg, let the air out of the back wheel and pumped it up again, thinking that the tire bead was not fully seated. Sprinted across the I-20 bridge, some 3 miles total. Took a turn off on the old highway 80 headed for Monroe. By the time I got to Tallulah, the thumping had become pronounced, but still I could see nothing as a cause. Just another 5 miles or so down the road and it would all become very clear. The sidewall of the sturdy aluminum rim would collapse, sending a chard into the brake pad which inturn would  hold it fast while the knife edge of that section slashed a groove into the sidewall of my tire. The rim, missing a huge section, the tire slashed but not fully thru…..and quite a few miles yet till Monroe. Just kept chugging towards Monroe sincd it was the only place close with a bike store. Rolled into town that evening about 5.15.

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Many thanks to David, owner of Bike Solutions as he will rebuild my back wheel for me.  Thanks to Danny from my hometown bike store back in California, Rubber Soul Bike Store, he helped source the rim for us. With any luck I will be rolling out of Monroe tomorrow Wednesday the 4th,  “Shirley Surly” and Jeremiah will be closing the gap on thier round the world escapade with sunshine in thier faces and a Prayer on thier lips.

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Wed 28, left Marionat 11.45am Had to get my glasses fixed before I could leave. Took rd 14 all the way thru Greensboro etc, turned onto 39 headed toward Dekalb. Set camp at 67 mile mark, good day considering I left late. Also had to take back wheel off again to try and reseat the tire, no flat, just a steady bounce because of poor tire seating

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American version of "petit negro", we juss call'em BLACK PIGS

Thurs 29, up and riding by 7.45. Day started cloudy lookin like rain. Had coffee in a 4 house town at fork in the road, sat in pretty sparce general store in an old cane seat rocker watching two old black fellas play checkers as i sipped my coffee. Tried for a picture but they would have none of it. Stopped at East Mississippi College rodeo grounds for a quick pic and met coach Goodyear and his wife. Turns out he rodeoed at West Hills for Bruce Hunt in 87 and 88 and knew Jason Clark art Hatnell. Camped about 15 miles from philidelphia ms, talked for 2.5 hrs on phone with john temple today. Total miles 55 today, many big hills and mucho wind today.

Fri 30, pretty much just rode all day. Not one picture and met no one. Done 93 miles, camped in the trees on the side of the road.

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Sat 31, up and going in good time. Rode into Canton, very nice town. I could spend a few dayz here hunting junk and antiques. Nice old town square. Had a great breakfast at “The Frisky Bisquit” xuperb if ever thru Canton and right on the square. Had a visit with Mike while sat at the counter having breakfast. He wants so much to do my trip, but on a motorcycle….hes just afraid what all his friends would say. Rode on, met and visited with some cyclists on a day trip. Further down theroad mdt 75 year olx Dan Brown, no smoke, no drink and work 6 day week give the Lord the7th day. Rode on thru Edwards out on Old Hsy80, very rough, talked to Wilson a color fella about my age out gettin exercise…..no pic. Covered 64 miles today. Lookin like rain maybe tonight.

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Blog49-shade of the Stars and Stripes

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Content, and at home in the shade of the Stars and Stripes that canopies this fabulous country, clean air, trees, and on some days a brilliant blue sky. Makes me wonder why am I fighting an internal battle in both my heart and mind. It strikes me as entirely odd and unreasonable that I could be caught in this quandry, but I am. Our RTW(round-the-world) adventure draws yet closer to completion as we pass another mile marker along the road that circumnavigates Gods Creation. The roads are wider, in better shape generally, heck most folks even speak my language….and yet with all that, for which I’am grateful I find myself longing for that which I have come to know so well.

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That being Europe. I am for instance a little taken aback, when I step into a store and someone says “good morning sweetie, how can we help you”! Leaves me a little unnerved when I go into a store ask for stove alchohol and the man says “right this way Sir, follow me”! Where is the struggle and worry, where is the requirement for simple sign language, nobody refuses to answer a question nor direct you to an available source. Between you and me, this internalized battle would play out for several weeks, conclusions will come later.

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Leaving Lisbon turned into a mental and physical challenge for me, I was on the fight and ready for any provocation. My entire family was now jettisoning out of my life once again……and poor ol’me had to cross solo yet again. While I was needing to hug my wife one more time she was being hurried thru a different terminal gate. While I was struggling to make my luggage fit the airline standards, and then struggling yet harder for a thirdtime to meet these exacting conformities my family on the otherhand slip out of sight and on towards thier waiting plane with ease. Rattled, cranky and not inclined towards a kind thought nor gesture, I finally make my way to my own departure gate with a full hour to consider just what sort of example I may have been to those around me…..I wasn’t feeling like  Christian Giant right at that moment. Sometimes God delivers his message with softest swipe of a dainty silk glove…..other times he whacks you smartly with a catchers mitt……I realized I had just gotten the latter.

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“Hi, God bless us, pray we have a safe flight……I think Iam in the window seat please”. Within a few brief seconds of finding my seat on the aluminum skinned flying culvert known as American Airlines, I had been gently prayed for, had my faith shorn up and put in my respectful place with regard too who is really in charge. God. A middle aged women of Hungarian heritage, who had lived in Torrance California for 8 years, whom now had her flag planted along the shores of Wales, but would very soon be leaving to live in Israel…..after she had taken her seat extended her hand and said “God Bless you, I am Rebecca”. Ever meet that person, who upon eyesight almost, you just know deep down inside that everything about thier character is 100% genuine. I felt cared for, I felt like I really mattered……and we didnt even know one another. Gods working.

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By the culmination of that 9.5 hour flight, as we passed over Greenland for my 8th time, however this time God was really at work showing his magnificense. The slanting rays of a setting sun swept across the snow capped jagged peaks in a way I had never seen before. The deep rifts that formed between worn cornices were bathed in a meloncholy soft blue making the pink light on the gleaming snow all the more brilliant. As warm pink ambiance faded, morphing seemlessly into stronger orange and crimson tones, we arced over the polar route at 565 miles an hour. God was at work on landscape out our cabin window, and upon hearts in row G, seats 32 and 33.

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Touch down, as wheels screamed and the reverse jet engine thrusters send us all headlong to the front of the plane were it not for seat belts, we arrive in Columbia, South Carolina. After almost 8 months, Jeremiah is walking on American soil, thru customs and out into brisk evening aire. My first two days would be spent with friends and relatives, Ryan, Trace and 2.5 year old Chloe. I would gain yet another moniker. While in Morroco, everywhere I went, I got “Ali-Baba”, on three other occasions while traveling thru customs I was called “Jesse James”, at Columbia while lining up for imigration a security fellow said “right this way operator”, and now I wore the gleaming hat/crown known as “Unk”. Good to arrive at a welcoming home rather than a stark room at Hotel 6. Better to be woke by a sharp rap on the head with a gleaming yellow plastic building block…..than to hear Carly Simon belting out a tune on the radio alarm…..I lay there for a moment rubbing the swelling goosebump…….and thinking whooly crap and poochy maggie……..I am in USA. I have been on my way to this place for 8 months, and the realization of arrival was slow to land in my mind. While I have been pedaling, life has been churnning along at home, there were now boyfriends and girlfriends to compete with for time, business was trundling along in my own office, decisions made shaping future outcomes that I had no part in, friends whom I loved dearly had passed away…… ALL, while I frolicked. It really was a torrent of emmossions, guilt, elation, anger, satisfaction,all coming to a crescendo in that moment……as a smiling, cute 2.5 year old asked me to get up and play “Unk”. My head was swimming as I made tractor sounds, shared twice eaten grapefruit and read the story of Goldilocks…….can this be real……someone must have slipped me LSD along the way. I felt as twisted and contorted as a Lewis Carrol character. Yet here I sat at an actual kitchen table, family around, every word spoken was recognizable, I could read the signs and labels on the food. I just couldn’t wrap my head around it, I was needing some quiet time to sit and ponder all that it meant to arrive at this point in my journey.

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2 days later, well fed, rested as a cyclist can be and with Chloe escorting me on her gleaming red tri-cycle down her street, I cycled south out of Columbia, out of the security and comfort of family once again making my way south towards the coast at the famous civil war city of Charleston. Had to be sure that I could lay claim to a coastline departure, not wanting to cheat my own nor my friends expectation as it regards this journey. Somewhere along about here, as I cycle threw the the pine scented aire, billowing cumulus clouds partially obscuring the afternnon sun, smooth blacktop ribbon layed out before me…..that I will no doubt iether offend or dissappoint many. My journey takes me completely across the southern USA,  where JWP (Jeremiah Watt Products) and HSBT(Horse Shoe Brand Tools) have many friends and customers. Aquaintances from engraving classes over some 25 years of teaching, saddle customers and avid fans of our DVD’S. If I were to stop at each for just a brief visit, I would never get home. RULES OF THE ROAD, no offence, but the rules have to apply to bring the journey to a conclusion. There are going to be many I ride by because I simply didn’t know that I was that close to your home town. Others whom I know well will also be passed simply because miles and timing really matter on a trip like this. As much as all things matter, miles is what closes the gap between myself and success. Only by taking the safest, straitest backroad route, and covering my average or maybe better each day will Jeremiah get home to the waiting sunshine and cerulean skies of California and the loving arms of wife and family. If by chance you see my ride right past your house, or you read on this blog that Jeremiah passed within but a few miles and didnt stop to see you…….it’s not because he doesn’t care nor for lack of want too……its very simply a longing to arrive home much like a migratory bird in flight. SORRY, but its going to happen…..my aplogies. I am traveling like a DUCK headed south with a snowball stuck to his butt, and sunshine on his eye lids….. cant wait for the snowball to melt away.

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The lapping waters of a grey Atlantic ocean wash the feet of the city of Charleston, as I arrive under dull lead grey cloud and slow drizzling rain. The last 2 days have been a slow wet soaker, off and on thru both night and day. With the coastline of South Carolina now at my back and the west firmly taking its proper position in front of me I begin my actual trek west. Heading no place imparticular, but all the while due west. one backwoods road after another, one slow growing hill at a time, we are passing thru a very rural America that that I have not seen in several years. Tiny towns, repleat with old men sitting out front of poorly stocked general stores. Cars on blocks take up space next to a flower planter on front lawns. Hand painted signs as well as glowing neon, lead you vintage antiques…..some as old as a quarter century…..and the price reflects its rareness amply. Outside bait boxes, humming beer coolers, and bins full of night crawlers , the resonant sound of howling coon hounds wind thier way into your phyche, slowly “america”seeps” back into your vocabulary. Y’ALL, lays on your tongue like a morsel after a good meal. A wave from passing motorists whether in a new Lexus or thouroughly beatin farm truck, are all sent with the same purpose and intent…..hello……goodmorning…..welcome……good too see you!  Its happening, so slowly as to be invisible but for the receptors in the heart. Home is happening, awakening within. Replacing memories of foriegn soil and landmark, warm well known words land on my timpanic membrane replacing those of different tongue which are harsh to me by the fact I dont recognize them, yet they had taken up residence.

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Traversing thru National Forests, barely discernable from non national forests I am hurtling thru a sea of tall Pine and Poplars. In a 3 day stint of riding taking me into Macon Georgia. A city that is somewhat of a musical legend, along the lines of Memphis. Home to musical greats from the Blues and R&B genres of the music industry. My old Shirley Surly was having her own difficulties with the current southern red sand voyage we shared. Her back gear group, front main ring and well worn original chain were all beggining to slip and jump as we tackled each new hill that rose in our way. Best take care of all this here and now while we have the place to get parts, versus later on down the road. 3 days in Macon were spent getting some new power cords with US ends. A new miniSD for the tablet, work on images, seeing American Sniper, and knowing that Micheal Moore would forever suck. I was back home, where idiots can have a microphone and an opinion……thank God the founding fathers didn’t promise an audience.

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Robert Lovett, water management and maintenance expert for Georgia Rural Water, steps from his grey pickup, a friendly southern smile and slow twangy speech, asks me how far am I traveling? Today, I am aiming for 60 miles, but when done I will have ridden around the world……proving one of these Georgian log haulers doenst turn me into a hood ornament first I joke. Robert, is somewhat of the town welcomer as it turned out, over several the years Robert has welcomed about a dozen cyclists of the long tour type, along with several across America walkers and the most unusual a man who traveled in a 10 goat wagon caravan. Pretty sure its classic southern hospitality and charm that make Robert a tourist magnet and the southern States a destination, yes even in the smallest towns.

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“Say, where ya headed with’al that there stuff on yer bike”…..chcking out thru a drug store line, somewhere Georgia. The conversation ensues, incorporating the gal acting as checker on this cloudy day……mostly west right now I say…..but the beggining was some 8 months ago. A fit man, about my own age, square jawed, hosting a dimpled chin and a firm handshake congratulates me and welcomes me back to “good ol’USA, good to have you home brother”. Say he says, why dont you stay out at my cabin tonight, it looks like its going to rain again tonight. We have hot water and a good bed out there, besides its on your way and only maybe 3 mile from hear. Tim, the fella offering the cabin, resonates that American hospitality that is so much of what makes the south an endearing place to live,see,visit. My only problem is that is only 1pm and i have more miles to conquer, sorry Tim, and thanks again, maybe another day.

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“Blessed are those weak in Spirit today but filled with a desire to find the comforting bosom of Christ. For he shall not overlook those who seek him……can I get an AMEN for that brothers and sisters”. The words boomed out of the speakers, dislodging loose white paint chips from the ceiling overhead……thankyou Jesus, you did it again I mentally said to myself….thankyou Jesus. I had not taken in a Church service for now 8 months and was longing for it. This particular morning, I rode past 4 maybe 5 tiny roadside Churches……all I was waiting for was an approximate time, nothing more. “Turn here” was the clarion call inside my skull. Plenty of cars out front, and about the right time for a renewed life to begin. Once again, upon closing the door behind me I realize that JW is the only vanilla to show up at the OREO party. The Saints are on there feet now, arms waving rythmicly, voices harmonizing in a way and hitting notes that are heavenly. I refrained from singing knowing God was loving this and he would not want to hear me scratch the record right in the middle of such a glorious rendition of a hymn I had never heard. 2 splendid hours, hugs, handshakes, well wishes and dinner invitations abound……but as I said “THE ROAD RULES”. Pastor James send me off amply Prayed up, and we covered almost 45 miles that afternoon settling finally with sunshine threw Pine boughs and a soft evening campsite on a rust red matt of Pine needles. Another day down and another day closer.

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Feeling a little like Peter Sellers brother, I asked the fellow if his ambling lanky dog would bite. Heck said Johnny….”he doan even got no teeth….what’ya ass fer anyways”. All wanted at the moment was to get a closer look at, and an image of an old red car in a dilapidated open front barn. “Heck, com’on in  tcheer, get your self a picture, he t’aint gunna hurt’cha nun”. And so it was that I met Johnny and Buster. A collector of old cars since he was 13 and now past 66 years, showing me his very first car purchase. A French made car I had never heard of, a Simplon……..Sorry Johnny, I said…..”but that motorscooter is as ugly as a gumboot”, what would make you buy something like that. Always felt like honesty is the best policy, even though sometimes it lands like a rock on glass. Pretty much agree says Johnny with a rye smile. So tell me about the old red car over in the barn. “Yeah, grew up here watching that beauty as a kid. It belonged to the fire Captain, it was the town ambulance, the town hurse, and represented the fire district at all functions…..bought that one when I turned 16” he says with the pride of a new father. Its a pretty rare beast as cars go. A 1945 Cadillac, with full delivery van construction built over a 1 ton truch chasis…..but most unusual component is the 8cylinder inline tank engine. A tank engine did you say? Yes sir assures Johnny. This car did not come out of production till 46, because we were waiting on a huge group of war surplus french made La Salle made tank engines. Part of the agreements after the war, buying up  war munitions and machinery from a cash strapped Europe. “Hold on a minute and I’ll start it up for yah” says an eager Johnny………a few wires, a couple battery leads and several reluctant purrings from a long idle engine…….vr…vr…..vroom…….vvvvrooooommmmmmm and its pure PURRING from under the hood, and Johnny wearing a Cheshire cat grin.

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Wjile I do find myself in front of an audience of people who want to know more about saddles, saddle trees and horse gear in general. Its very seldom the JW will place himself in a public speaking venue in which its a group of High Schoolers…..and on this occassion a series of 4 classes of all black students. To be honest, I dont know who was the more nervous…..the whole room was full of wide eyes. A longtime family friend, Darren Ramalho, same age as my kids, having graduated honors from UCLA  and now teaching thru the “Teach For America”program is the one who arranged the day. We are in the tiny rural town of Union Town, but a stones throw from the epicenter of the Civil Rights Movement……and new movie release “Selma”. My job, to use pictures and verbal descriptions of my RTW journey thus far as a launching pad for the merits of education and work ethic. Have to say, that I was very welcomed by the local staff, made welcome by the kids at the school. In the end I think I actually got more out of the whole expierience than did they, great group of kids, both smart and eager. Walked away unharmed by the days events and would actually do it again…..never thought that would be the day. Thankyou Darren “Mr.Ramalho” for organizing a character building day for me. Thankyou Dean and Kim for raising a really great kid, who has always been a trusted friend and now a fine teacher.

Tonight will be my last night in Marion Alabama and we will commence weaving our way west again tomorrow. What roads await, what towns we pass thru…..non of this is decided yet. I bear Jack Sparrows compass in my vest pocket, and the wishes of my heart lie to a westerly direction……a fair breeze does blow crisp snapping canvas in that direction.

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Blog48-ending Christmas in Porto Portugal

Gods gift to all of us in the Watt family, was simply the trip and a time to share in our love for each other. No gifts, just time together, it was far better than any other gift we could have been given. We done  big walki g tour of Lisbon, ate a fine dining places, ate at crappy ones well. Headed south to the very southernmost tip of Europe, while we enjoyed it we did get the car broke into and lost passports and laptops as well as a harddrive with images from southern Afrika that will never be replaced…..but, Christ did make sure that we are all well and healthy. Back to Lisbon and had replacements passports in 24hours. Jumped a cheap flight to Marrakesh, Morroco. Done several tours in Morroco for 5 days…..then back to Lisbon. From Lisbon, we drove north to Porto which is the capital city for the PORT WINE manufacturers. Now, we all enjoyed everywhere else in Portugal, but we all fell in love with Porto…..what a charming city to spend several days in. We have pretty much abandoned the standard regular hotels while traveling and have gone to apartments which are cheaper and enjoyable and homey feeling. Everything is loadex, the bike is tore apart and boxed up, all the rugs are packed and the Morrocan door ks also loaded…….yes, a door. For what…..heck we dont know, its just to cool to passup. One little side note that amazed us, is just how bad the air pollution is in Porto especially, but all along Portugal as well. Never really did find out why its so bad.

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Blog48-lovin our time in Morroco-part1

Morroco, as it turned out was about as beautiful and exciting as a holiday can be. More than we had expected, nicer people than we were prepared for, and far more rugged than expectations. The buying of khilim rugs from the rural villagers as well as tapestries, was a prime reason for the visit. Walking open air markets that have been held in the same central square for over 400 years is certainly another valid reason, not too mention haggling over everything you consider and ending with a smile no matter the outcome. No doubt, we shall return.

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